Tell us what you think of the new cricket section at

Don't show again

Ashes 2013/14: Gary Ballance 'won't let England down in Sydney'

Left-hander scores runs in difficult situations and would bring stability to the team...

Will England change team for final Test?

Loading Market ...

Cricket Betting

Up To £30 Free Matched Bet

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance has the mettle to score tough runs for England, says Jason Gillespie.

What's gone wrong with England?

Uncapped Ballance is in the running to make his debut in this week's fifth Ashes Test in Sydney on Thursday where the tourists will seek to avoid a series whitewash.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a stellar season as Yorkshire finished second in division one behind Durham, scoring 1,363 runs in 22 first-class innings at an average of 64.9.


Former England captains Andrew Strauss and Mike Atherton believe the time is right to hand Ballance his first cap and Yorkshire first team coach Gillespie endorses that view after working with the left-hander.

"I think he'd bring some stability and he'd play well," said the former Australian seamer. "He had a great season last year for Yorkshire - he's had a couple of good seasons, actually.

"The impressive thing about Gary is how he scores his runs - he scores them in difficult situations when the team needs a score.

"If he's selected this will be his first game. We've just seen Jonny Bairstow play his first game as a first-choice wicketkeeper and he's been copping a bit of criticism.

"He did take six catches, so there is a positive there, even though he should have gone for a couple more on day four.

"Gary certainly wouldn't let England down; he's a good lad to have in the dressing room and maybe some fresh faces might just lift the spirits in this side."


Seamers Boyd Rankin and Steve Finn have yet to play a Test in the series but could be back in the frame for the final Test if the selectors decide to ring the changes, as could be Surrey's Chris Tremlett, who was dropped after the opening Test defeat in Brisbane.

Of the three Gillespie says Finn, who has taken 90 wickets in 23 Tests, offers England the best chance of salvaging something out of the series - possibly at Tim Bresnan's expense - and on a pitch expected to offer turn he thinks the tourists might do well to introduce Durham's Scott Borthwick.

"Rankin is certainly a developing bowler," he added. "He's got talent, pace and height and at six foot eight he's quite an imposing looking character.

"Whether you would throw him in ahead of Steven Finn is another matter. If England are going to make a change, I think Finn would be the seam bowler to come in out of the 'big three' that have gone on tour.

"On the subject of spin, I would certainly play Borthwick ahead of Panesar. It's very clear to me that the England captain doesn't have much faith in Monty Panesar."


England's fragile batting was again exposed in Melbourne, where they suffered a double collapse in the second innings losing three wickets for one run and then five more for just six runs.

Michael Carberry's Test future was called into question following the eight-week defeat but Sky Sports pundit Mark Butcher says he'd drop Joe Root, who has scored 192 runs in the series at an average of 27.42.

"There is a lot of talk on the batting side of things about whether Michael Carberry should stay in the side. I would leave him in there for one more Test match - it's almost like a make-or-break Test for him.

"The one I would take out of the firing line would be Joe Root because if they drop Carberry, Root has to move again."

He added: "He has to slot back up to open the batting and the poor kid won't know whether he is coming or going having batted everywhere in the order.

"So I would be inclined to pull Root out of the firing line just for a Test. It's not the end of his career; it just means that he gets a bit of a break and has a chance to reassess before he gets into the one-day series."

Check out the Sky Sports Ashes podcast page here or check out the podcast on itunes or by hitting this MP3 link.

Alternatively, listen on Soundcloud...

Watch day one of the fifth and final Test match between Australia and England from 10.30pm on Thursday on Sky Sports 2.